I first completed my training as a Rape Crisis counsellor in 2001. I remember the experience clearly still; it changed my life and who I was and am in so many ways. It quite literally made me a better person. Better able to do the things I wanted to do to provide meaning and purpose in my life. Since then, I have been training new Rape Crisis counsellors almost every year.
On the 24th of May, I went to watch the latest set of volunteer counsellors graduate as full members of Rape Crisis. These women had spent the last 9 months learning, contributing and acclimatising themselves to the work we do.
Looking at these women, I felt enormous pride at who they were and how far they have come. They had questioned themselves, lovingly changed their minds and hearts, and immersed themselves in the horror that is rape in South Africa. My pride in them (and in myself for helping them get there) is largely because I know the real differences they will make, not only to the 5,000 rape survivors we see each year, but also to their own friends and loved ones, and the friends and loved ones of the survivors they work with.
Year after year, Rape Crisis graduates go out and make an impact all over the world. People we have trained are making a difference across Africa, in India, in America, and in Europe. We are, in many ways, taking over the world.
I feel privileged to witness just how much change can happen when you begin to change the world one person at a time. I know that these women will profoundly impact the lives, hearts and minds of hundreds of other people. They will empower others, who in turn will do the same. So that thousands of people will be challenged to become better versions of themselves; will be inspired to be brave, vulnerable, respectful and kind.
We are creating and recreating ourselves as activists. We use our vulnerability to grow a world where rape becomes unthinkable. It is through our ability to face and change our own darkness that we can brighten our own and others’ lives – where we can take back the night and fill it with stars.
You can do it too. Even if you never experience the training, there are things you can do to join us in making the world a safer and kinder place. Take responsibility for ending sexual violence by questioning what you think you know, talking about it, commenting on this blog, writing to government to demand more funds for the work we do, donating time, money and your voice to speak out. You know you want to; so go ahead and make a difference.
By Morgan Mitchell
We extend our thanks to the following individuals for donating their time and gifts and making the graduation so special:
Sue Johnstone Hepburns Style Salon – Meadowridge
Andrea Sisson of Skincare Café – Kenilworth
Rouge Day Spa – Kenilworth
Tian and Robert of Studio 59 – Kenilworth 021 761 3896
Michelle from Organic at Heart – Plumbstead
Helene Nash from The Muse – Noordhoek
Dylan from Sandboarding Cape Town
We would also like to thank the following individuals and companies who contributed toward this training course and in so doing have empowered these young activists to support the recovery of rape survivors.
Pick ‘n Pay, MKEM, Tessa Hochveld, Kim Hochveld, Omotayo Jolaosho, Ralph Immerman, Marelize Barnard, Georgina Jones, Chantelle de Nobrega, Bregje Wijsenbeek, Jacques Maree, Michael Evans, Joanne Kriel, Johathan Wacks, Kathleen Thelen, Melissa Milne, Joanne Levitan, Tessa Drews, Lou Smaldino, Kate Morris, Cheryl Brown, Jane Raphaely, R.Farber, Ani Schneider, Tiffany Venter, Richard Andrew and Johne Otto
Finally we thank Danelle Louw, for volunteering her time to us and taking such beautiful photographs.